As the new year begins, it’s important to set priorities and use your time and effort more efficiently, by focusing on the most important task first in a way that ensures you’ll have time enough for everything.

At work, it’s easier to set priorities when you take on the responsibility yourself. Those who can set their own priorities, hold themselves accountable, without relying on strict oversight and micromanagement, have a clear advantage.

Take stock of your current priorities and how you recognize and tackle them. Notice what works well for you and what can be improved. Like anything else, useful prioritization is an ongoing practice – the better you get at it, the more bandwidth you’ll have left for other things.

Follow these tips to set work priorities at the office.

Get Clear on What Matters

“Clarity is the beginning of all empowerment,” writes Greg McKeown in Harvard Business Review. Before you can effectively prioritize your work, it’s essential that you understand what matters and why. If you don’t understand your company’s strategy or direction, or confused about how your priorities align with those of your business and clients, or you’re struggling to manage an array of freelance projects, take the time to better understand your larger objectives. Get your clients, managers, and colleagues involved as needed.

A great team-building exercise that also helps clarify goals is doing a team vision building exercise.

Get a System

There are many different schools of thought on time management, lots of competing project management software products, and a nearly infinite number of tips and tricks you can try. You can be a believer in GTD, the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, or the Project Management Triangle. Maybe you have a system of your own. It’s less important which system you use and more important that you use it consistently. Do enough research to pick a system that works for you and then stick to it.

Color-Code Your Calendar

 Calendar-based planning tools can be quite useful. They make use of the rhythm of time, something we all inherently understand. If you’re a visual thinker, creating a color-coded system to categorize and prioritize your work within your calendar can provide a breakthrough in understanding what you’re doing.

 Find Your Sweet Spot

According to the Pareto Principle, we get approximately 80% of our positive results from 20% of our applied effort. When you get good at tracking your work and analyzing your results, you can get an idea of what your “20% tasks” are and lean more heavily into those.

Another way to determine your most significant priorities is to understand where your passions (the work you love to do) intersect with value (the work with the biggest business benefits). This requires quantifying and qualifying your work, along with some introspection and self-awareness, and it can pay enormous dividends when you make an effort to spend as much time on work that brings out your best qualities for the maximum benefit of those around you.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals and businesses of all stripes get more from work and from life. Contact Artisan today to start the conversation!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 552nd issue of our weekly